Look for new ways to broaden your thinking — and increase your chances of success

In 1954, as a 52-year-old milkshake-machine vendor was visiting one of his restaurant customers in San Bernardino, California, he witnessed a unique food assembly line system that two brothers had developed.

Immediately recognizing the potential of their idea, he offered to pay them a percentage of their gross receipts. The brothers agreed, and now the brothers, Maurice and Richard McDonald, and the milkshake-machine salesman, Ray Kroc, have permanent places in U.S. history.

The lesson? Sometimes all it takes is a simple idea to make the difference between minor and historic success.
I recognize that thinking outside of our walls can be difficult. In today’s fast-paced environment, the one thing that most people lack is time. We’re always rushed to make decisions, and the urgency of accomplishing the immediate naturally rises to the top of our priority list.

What we don’t realize is that this mentality encourages us to act like gerbils on a wheel, spinning in circles but not really going anywhere. Therefore, it is important to be able to take ourselves outside of the picture at times to look at things objectively. When we train ourselves to be more open-minded, we open doors to Kroc’s level of success.

I’ve found from experience that continuous learning helps maintain an open mindset. We need to remind ourselves to invest time in learning, no matter our age. For example, history has a marvelous habit of repeating itself. By reading about history, we gain various perspectives on how people respond to certain situations, and we can learn from their successes and mistakes.

One of the benefits of technology is that it provides access to a number of sites that offer valuable perspective on how to manage the daily challenges of life and work.

Farnam Street is a blog published out of Ottawa, Canada, that offers thought-provoking life lessons to millions of subscribers around the world. The content is based on simple concepts and sometimes, that’s all you need to make a sense of whatever it is that is holding you back.

“In a world full of noise, Farnam Street is a place where you can step back and think about time-tested ideas while asking yourself questions that lead to meaningful understanding,” reads the blog’s home page.

There are other resources that can aid us in tearing down our walls and moving forward. For example, vendors are dealing with other businesses like yours on a daily basis, and those vendors represent a great resource.

They see and hear all of the latest innovations taking place in our industries, so take the time to talk to them about these things.

When you take the time to listen, others will teach you things and expose you to new perspectives. And it’s an easy way to start climbing out of our box.

Fred Koury is president and CEO at Smart Business Network